This year I’m going to make 2 cloth books as gifts for a 2 year old. I have made cloth books a few times before, they are a great gift to give toddlers as they can’t rip the pages and it doesn’t matter if they chew on them. Over this Easter weekend one of the tasks on my “todo” list was to make a start on them.
In the past I have followed patterns to make them but this time I’m just making everything up. They are really easy to do without a pattern. For my pages this time I’m using white calico with a piece of sew in medium interfacing behind each one. In the past to stablise the back the pages I have used different vlieseline products, I have a roll of sew in interfacing now so I just used that as it isn’t too thick. I cut my pages 9.5″ x 10.5″ it will give me a nice size book, perfect for small hands. On the sewing machine I have tacked each page and lining piece together. I used the basting stitch setting which is probably a stitch length of 5 on my MC 11000 as I know that is the longest stitch length that I can do. I will remove the basting stitches after I finish each page.
The books I am making are colours and numbers. I used my sizzix cutting machine to cut all the pieces out of wool felt. I just realised that I never cut the pieces needed for the 2 front covers but I will do those pages at the end and will cut more. One of the cutting dies I have is numbers but I will trim some of those as they have a curved shape at the end of them and I don’t like that look. On the colours book I will free hand write the colour and embroider of over. I will hand sew all the pieces on to the pages. I don’t need these books until August so I have given myself plenty of hand sewing time to do it, mindless tv work so easy to do. Now that I have sorted my embroidery threads it will be easier to find the colours I need too!
I’ve never made any In The Hoop (ITH) projects before so I decided it was about time to give it a go. ITH items are doing using an embroidery machine. You load a digital file onto the machine which instructs the machine all the steps required to complete the project. I had never loaded a file onto my machine and knew nothing of it so it was a big learning curve. I asked a lot of questions on various Facebook groups and watched a lot of YouTube clips before I attempted this project.
The first thing I learnt was that you need a small USB stick to load your files onto to transfer it from the computer to your machine. The stick I purchased was far too big and I discovered these days it isn’t easy to buy a small USB stick, the regular shops don’t sell anything under 8GB. Luckily I found a couple of small 4GB sticks unopened in a drawer I had purchased years ago (before I got my machine) The second thing I learnt was you need to format your stick in your embroidery machine before you can copy files from the computer onto the stick. The third thing I learnt is that you don’t just copy the file onto the stick. You need to have the files in a particular order on the stick for the machine to be able to read it. I found this clip very useful.
I decided my first ITH project should be a nice simple project. I chose the Mermaid from Dolls and Daydreams. She looks cute and different. Once I loaded the file and started I realised that it wasn’t as scary as I first thought. You still follow a pattern with instructions that are set out step by step. The machine stops after each step. During the making of the doll you are adding fabric, flipping pieces over, cutting away threads and pieces. Even though the machine is doing all the work you are still very involved.
I did have a couple of mishaps and lessons learnt when making this doll. I initially had the tail fabric on the back the wrong direction (I chose this fabric to resemble scales) so I unpicked it. I discovered that you can tell the machine to go back a step if you want to redo something again such as stitch the fabric the right direction. Also if you want to skip a non crucial step you can do that too. I didn’t follow all the changes in thread colour that was in the pattern, after I stitched on her hair in front I realised she would have cream thread visible on her head. I had enough fabric so I decided to make that entire piece again. When sewing the back piece onto the front I snapped a needle. No dramas I changed my needled, turned the machine down slower and repeated that step again.
She was a great doll to learn on. She isn’t too complicated but she made me think. I print most of my pattern instructions in black and white but I know next time to really take notice of the instructions in colour before I start so I can understand where I need to use matching thread colour to pieces. A slower machine in better when doing this than a fast one. I need to take notice of fabric direction. All the fabrics and felt came from my stash. I’m sure I will make this doll again. This time I used the 5″ x 7″ pattern in my 8″ hoop. I do have a bigger hoop so next time I may maker her larger. I think she is adorable.
This is a little softie that I will give as a Christmas present this year. As it will be the child’s first Christmas I can get away with showing this early. I used my embroidery machine to do the lettering then placed the train pattern around the letters to ensure if it fitted before cutting it out and stitching it up. This is a really simple gift that I have also made previously but in that instance I hand embroidered the letters. What I really like about doing this toy is that it can be given to a young child without risk of them hurting themselves as it has not parts or choking hazards yet the child can hold onto it for years to come as a keepsake as it doesn’t look like a baby toy. I hope as a teenager this is still in their room.
On a personal note I think this is a great first project if your just starting machine embroidery. It started as a rectangle square that I backed with stabilizer, hooped up, attached to the machine, set simple lettering on the machine, hit start and 5 minutes later I had a piece of fabric I could then cut into a toy. I was very intimidated by machine embroidery but this was a simple project that I could do where I was testing out how to use the machine yet making a practical item at the same time. I find it very hard to do an exercise or project without a purpose.
I got my fancy Janome Memory Craft sewing machine earlier this year. It is an embroidery machine as well as a general sewing machine. Up until now I have only used it as a sewing machine. The embroidery side scared me. I think I have mentioned in previous posts if I’m not familiar with something or unsure of it I get very nervous. Last month I had intentions of trying out the embroidery but life got in the way and I never got to it. Last night I watched the embroidery instructions videos that are on the machine and this morning I bit the bullet and gave it ago.
I was clueless as to what I was doing and in fact had to get the tablet pc out next to the machine to even see how to screw the embroidery arm on to the machine. I then had to work out how to even start the embroidery. Of course hit the start button on the machine! Once it started I realised I should’ve cut away the starting thread so I did that I little later than I should have. Oh well learning curve for next time. For a first attempt I’m happy with it. It isn’t as scary as it seems. I’m going to use this as part of a Christmas gift I decided upon last night. I was going to hand embroider it but I thought no I have this fancy machine I may as well use it to its potential.